In the popular imagination, the "American Way of War" developed in major conflicts such as the Civil War and World War II: costly wars of attrition that mobilized the full might of the economy and were fought until the enemy was annihilated. The strategist Eliot A. Cohen begs to differ. In his new book, Conquered into Liberty, he argues that the American approach to warfare originated in battles fought hundreds of years ago along a 200-mile stretch of land and water from Albany to Montreal. The Indians called this the Great Warpath, according to Cohen, and from the early 18th century until the early 19th century, it was the scene of unrelenting conflict.
At first the combatants were British and French settlers, each augmented by Indian allies. Following the French defeat in 1759, Canada became British. Subsequent battles were fought between His Majesty's Government and recalcitrant subjects of the King who dared to raise the banner of rebellion in 1775 and came to blows with the Mother Country in 1812. Even well into the 19th century there were regular fears of another Anglo-American conflict breaking out.